Determined to take egg branding, which it pioneered about 20 years ago, notches above players in the egg industry, Animal Care used the occasion of the 2019 World Egg Day celebrated recently to launch its new innovations in the industry.
First is the replacement of imported plastic packs, in which eggs are presented, with locally sourced pulp packs. With the new innovation, FUNTUNA eggs are now shrink-wrapped, that is, presented in pulp packs that are cling-filmed through a machine called the shrink-wrapping machine.
Shrink-wrapped FUNTUNA eggs, the first ever in the country, offer many benefits to the consumers, the environment and of course, the economy. The consumers will pay less for a crate of the eggs because the substitution of expensive imported plastic packs with locally produced pulps brings down the cost of production. According to the firm, although consumers will henceforth pay less, there is no reduction in the quality of FUNTUNA eggs.
According to the General Manager, Commercial Egg Production division, Dr Anthony Costa, the egg still retains its “firm, dense albumen and upstanding golden yellow yolk with guaranteed high level proteins, amino acids and all vitamins, except vitamin C.”
Not only is the new shrink-wrapping technology of immense benefit to egg consumers, it also addresses the concerns being raised by environmentalists about the threat plastic pollution poses to land, humans, waterways and oceans. The chemical structure of most plastic materials makes them resistant to the natural processes of degradation. The new local pulp packs are soft paper materials that decompose easily and pose no threat to the ecosystem. Thus, going green in its presentation of eggs is part of the company’s contribution to restoring sanity to the environment for the benefit of humanity.
Through this innovation, Animal Care also has boosted the Federal Government’s job creation and import substitution campaign. The imported plastic packs were gulping a considerable amount of foreign exchange and leading to inadvertent exportation of jobs that could be provided locally. Now, the company has reversed the trend by sourcing the pulp packs locally and creating massive job opportunities for the country and a big niche for local manufacturers.
The second innovation is the inscribing of best-before date on each of FUNTUNA eggs, another trail blazed in the country by the 40-year-old company. According to Dr Costa, “the main thrust of this innovation is essentially for consumer protection through traceability of the egg.” He added, “We are emboldened to go this extra length of individual egg dateline labeling because we are confident of the quality of our eggs.”
The third is the boiled and food grade varnished eggs which provide snack nutrition and quick meal for every household. Using modern technology, FUNTUNA eggs are boiled through an automation process without cracks and the eggs, after they are boiled, are coated with food grade inks in different attractive colours to preserve their shell life.
Dr Costa, in his opening remark at the presentation of the eggs to newsmen in Ogere Remo, headquarters of Animal Care, said Funtuna’s varnished boiled eggs are not only free from possible contamination during home boiling of eggs through the cracks in the eggs, they are also easy to peel.
President and Chief Executive Officer of ACSK, Dr Olatunde Agbato, told newsmen what informed the innovative methods introduced by the company. “There are three main innovations we have done to our eggs. The first one is that each of our eggs carries its best-before date. When you buy a crate of our eggs and somebody mixes our eggs with other eggs, apart from the fact that our logo is on each egg, which we did a while back, it now it carries individual best-before date. So, this will check adulteration.
“Even though we put the best before date on our eggs, it does not mean that people can’t eat the eggs after the date. It only means that people will derive more value from the eggs if eaten within the date on the eggs.
“We believe it will also set our eggs apart in the market. Some of these innovations are being used all over the world. Our association with the International Egg Commission (IEC) has exposed us to some of the innovations we are pioneering in Nigeria. Another advantage of the best before date is traceability, which is a very important part of consumer protection. We are self-regulating ourselves.
“The second innovation is shrink-wrapped egg, which purpose is to make use of locally available pulp material to reduce the cost of egg production and make eggs more available to consumers who are will to buy our eggs but are considering their pockets. Our customers who regularly buy our eggs in the plastic trays have loads of these plastic trays in their houses because we won’t buy back these trays. Many of the plastic packs are thrown out and people use them to pack fake products. We don’t want that. Yes, the plastic packs are more aesthetically pleasing to the eyes, but the most important thing is the egg because it is the same quality FUNTUNA egg that is in the new packs.
“For the varnished boiled eggs, you buy a crate of our boiled eggs, put it on your dining table and take one to eat per day. It does not get spoilt and for 30 days, the eggs are still good for consumption because spoilage does not occur since the eggs are varnished. You don’t have to boil eggs every day because each time you boil eggs, you waste cooking gas. Our eggs are boiled using automation technology that allows the integrity of the eggs to be preserved.
“In the manually boiled eggs, most of the times, while you are boiling them, the eggs would crack and some germs in the water used to boil the eggs escape into the eggs through the cracks and contaminate them. Some of the nutrients in the eggs also escape into the water. So, people are not getting full value for their money. That is why we decided to do this so that we make it available for kids while going to school with the assurance that they are taking wholesome eggs.”
The Executive Vice President of Animal Care, Dame Olufunmilayo Agbato, in her remarks at the occasion, lamented the low egg consumption among Nigerians, despite the immense benefits derivable from eating eggs.
“The current statistics on egg consumption for Nigeria shows that the per capita egg consumption is between 60 and 80. This rate ought to be 365. In Mexico, it is between 370 and 380, which means Mexicans are even eating more than an egg per day. In the US and India, it is about 300 and many other countries. So, it means Nigerians are not eating enough eggs. We should make the egg available to our people are encourage them to eat more eggs,” she said Mrs Agbato, who also disclosed that the farm’s current production capacity is 8, 500 crates of eggs (255, 000 eggs) per day.
Dr Agbato took the argument further by stressing that the production and consumption of more eggs in the country present a huge opportunity for government to realise its lofty goal of lifting millions of Nigerians out of grinding poverty.
“At 60 eggs per person per year in Nigeria, we are far behind and the potential for egg production in the country is phenomenal. We want to set a target of 200 eggs consumption for every Nigerian in a year. And to be able to get to 300, a lot of eggs have to be produced. This can create jobs for millions of Nigerians.
“So, if President Muhammadu Buhari is talking about lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty, this is a veritable way of doing it. If today, we are consuming only 60 eggs and we want to go to 200, we can do the calculation as to how many birds will be required, how many feeds, how many people will be employed either directly on the farm, providing input, application, distribution or those who will be involved to achieve the target.
“This is what has lifted China out of poverty. I remember while I was in secondary school, people thought of China as an underdeveloped country which had a lot of poor people. But within a very short time, China lifted over 700 million people out of poverty. Today, China has overtaken the United States. China took advantage of its large population and lifted them out poverty. Nigeria has the opportunity to do so. So, if we focus on agriculture, we will be able to feed ourselves,” he said.